Deke's Technique 220: Creating a Distinctive 2D Video Game Character in Illustrator

Deke's Technique 220: Creating a Distinctive 2D Video Game Character in Illustrator

In last week's episode of Deke's Techniques, Deke shared the prosaic, but presumably helpful, process of extending your Illustrator artwork all the way to the bleed. In the course of that video, however, he inadvertently introduced the world to his distractingly compelling character, the Necrowalrus, who happened to be the subject of the artwork in question. 

Just how attention-grabbing was the tangential introduction of Deke's elusive non-existent video game character? Well, I think this tweet says is all:  

So this week, Deke reveals how to draw some key components of his delightful game-changing Necrowalrus in Illustrator. Read more » 

. Tagged with:

Deke's Techniques 218: Precisely Aligning Illustrator Artwork to the Bleed

Precisely Aligning Artwork to the Bleed

This week's Deke's Techniques episode explains how to create Illustrator artwork that extends all the way to the bleed.

Deke and I have been arguing (benevolently) about how to describe bleed. It's basically the allowance you put around your image to ensure that the ink goes all the way to the edge of the page---and does so even if the printer's registration is slightly misaligned. In other words, practically speaking, it's the allowance you put around your image to ensure the ink goes off the edge leaving not the slightest sliver of un-inked whiteness behind. 

This means you want both your purple background and your "necrowalrus's" costume to extend out beyond any bit of potentially crop-able space:

This means that you have to extend the edges of your image to include extra stuff: background and stretchable elements of your illustration that may or may not be included in the final print. It's an art. It's a science. And in Illustrator, it takes a little finesse to align the relevant bits of your document to and all the way through this safety zone. If you're creating graphics and you have any thought of ever printing them on paper, then this week's episode is definitely worth checking out.  Read more » 

. Tagged with:

Quick-Change Artistry: Using Illustrator Symbols for Efficient Icon Iteration

The Symbols feature in Illustrator allows you to create master objects that can be changed en masse when you change your mind. If you have a document that has repeated instances of a certain embellishment---whether it be a logo, ornament, or even a text element---you can save a master version of that element which can be easily duplicated, replaced, or updated en masse when you (or your client, or your boss) have a change of heart. 

To demonstrate how symbols work to efficiently duplicate and iterate graphics, I stole this tutorial from Deke's upcoming Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Mastery course due out at this week. In this project, we'll take a simple page icon and make variations of it in Illustrator, as if to visually document a completely abridged history of the written word from the advent of a single sheet of paper on (sorry, no stone tablet icon to work with). Like this (although I'm not sure what phase of communication technology the clipboard is supposed to represent): Psst: If you want to follow along, you can download the file I'm using at the end of this post.

Here are the step-by-step illustrated instructions. (If you're not a member of dekeOnline, you can become one here, it's free.)  Read more » 

. Tagged with:

Steal from the Best: Get Your Gradient Swatches for InDesign by Lifting Them from Illustrator

And while you're at it, get your InDesign know-how by lifting it from Anne-Marie Concepcion and David Blatner.

As I've probably mentioned ten thousand times already, I have a project I'm working on that requires InDesign, and I'm heading to PEPCON (the Print and eProduction Conference) this weekend and don't want to seem dull-minded as I mix with the InDesignerati. (In my experience, the crowd, speakers, and attendees alike, are wicked sharp at PEPCON.)

So, one of the ways I'm feeding my craving for more InDesign know-how is to watch a lot of David and Anne-Marie's course, InDesign Secrets. In fact, that's where I stole this movie on how to get gradient swatches out of Illustrator and into InDesign.

If you're an InDesign user with a design-centric version of the Creative Suite or a subscription to the Creative Cloud, then you already have access to Illustrator, so go grab those swatches. They're already yours. I'm just using the thievery motif for dramatic effect. Much like one might use these gradients:

Like Deke's Techniques, the InDesign Secrets collection at is a continually updated series of short episodes. And if this level of InDesignery is over your head, there's an Up & Running with InDesign course taught by some guy named Deke there, too. And if you're not a member, you can get a free week's trial at  

For those of you who like to read, here are my insightful observations on Anne-Marie's trick:   Read more » 

. Tagged with:

Deke Challenge Winner Authors New Course at

Little did we know when we held last year's Deke's Techniques challenge that we were also going on a talent search for But in fact, the winner of the Photoshop Challenge (that classic "It's a Plaid, Plaid World") has now created her first course. This movie above is an excerpt from Robin Schneider's new course, Illustrator for Fashion Design: Drawing Flats.

Congratulations (again), Robin. We'll be able to say we knew you when. And for those of you who would like to try out Robin's course (and of course a pile of courses by some guy named Deke, too), you can get a free seven-day trial at more » 

. Tagged with: